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Nativity scene gets complaints, kicked out of public park to vacant lot. Which is quite biblical, actually.

'She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.'

Image source: YouTube screenshot

A Nativity scene that's been displayed in a Washington state public park for the last 40 years has drawn a handful of complaints this Christmas season — and as a result has been moved to a privately owned vacant lot, KPTV-TV reported.

Woodland officials told the station they didn't want to move the longstanding display from Horseshoe Lake Park but did so when they considered the legal ramifications of keeping it on public property.

"I wouldn't have chosen to do this, but it's in the best interest of the city to do so," Mayor Will Finn told KPTV last week. "The feedback I'm getting is that it's in a better spot."

Image source: YouTube screenshot

The city's Public Works Department helped move the privately owned Nativity scene to the vacant lot after receiving about five recent complaints about it, the station said. City Administrator Peter Boyce added to KPTV that he's unaware of complaints in years prior — and that officials in turn have received about 50 complaints and inquiries over the display's removal.

What was the reaction to the decision?

Jenny Tingley told the station she was able to see the Nativity scene from her home and was surprised and disappointed that it was moved.

"Our grandkids love it when they put little baby Jesus out," Tingley added to KPTV. "I didn't think it was offensive at all. I thought it added to the look of our town when it's the holidays."

Image source: YouTube screenshot

She also told the station, "I'm just sorry that people got offended by it, because we enjoy it — everybody we know enjoys it." Tingley added.

Marc McVey told KPTV he emailed city leaders Sunday: "I wrote the mayor and the city manager and said, 'Hey, I'm not sure if this is keeping with what the law allows.'"

McVey added to the station that he's "not anti-religious" and that moving the Nativity scene to the vacant lot is "a fantastic compromise — it's still visible so people can enjoy it."

"Believe me, I'm not anti-religious. I think it's great, I love this holiday season. I have a Christmas tree up myself," he told KPTV, "but it just made me a little bit uncomfortable to have that on public land."

Image source: YouTube screenshot

The mayor released a statement, the station said, that reads in part:

As one of the city caretakers, I believe the move was the best for the city and for all of us. ... I personally see the nativity as a symbol of Christmas and feel comfort when seeing it displayed. I'm also grateful for the community's understanding of the difficult but important decision. … This move … puts the nativity in a more visible location within our city, while respecting the public nature of public property.

This writer's perspective

Nativity scene removals from public spots have become increasingly common it seems, and indeed those who want them shown the door certainly have a case in the eyes of the law.

But the scriptural parallels in this latest episode are pretty hard to miss: No more room for the Nativity scene at the public park — so Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus are relegated to a vacant lot.

While the move understandably may be viewed as a slight, it's in a way fitting with the Bible account of the utter humility surrounding Christ's birth after a comfier place for him to come into this world was rejected — and it can serve as a powerful reminder to all of us who believe:

Everyone was required to return to his ancestral home for this registration. And because Joseph was a member of the royal line, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, King David's ancient home — journeying there from the Galilean village of Nazareth. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was obviously pregnant by this time.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born; and she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.

That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared among them, and the landscape shone bright with the glory of the Lord. They were badly frightened, but the angel reassured them.

"Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Savior — yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born tonight in Bethlehem! How will you recognize him? You will find a baby wrapped in a blanket, lying in a manger!"—Luke 2:3-12, The Living Bible

(H/T: The American Mirror)

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